Special Needs Education Under The Microscope This Month

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Several teachers across the island stand to benefit from being exposed to the current techniques and strategies for educating children with special needs and learning disabilities later this month.

This is when the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, in association with the Barbados Association of Reading (BAR), hosts Dr. Vicky Spencer, Professor in Special Needs Education and Learning Disabilities at George Mason University, Virginia, USA.

The visit, which is sponsored by the United States Embassy’s Fulbright Specialist Programme, will run from February 18 to March 2, will entail a series of familiarisation sessions at institutions that address special needs education.

Dr. Spencer has over 25 years of experience as a classroom teacher, university professor, disability specialist, teacher trainer, and parental consultant. Additionally, she has expertise in cognitive strategy instruction for students with mild to moderate disabilities including those on the autism spectrum.

One of the main aims of the visit will be to update those Education Officers, who have responsibility for monitoring the implementation of educational policy, on current research in Special Needs Education and Learning Disabilities.

Dr. Spencer will also provide parents, guardians and caregivers of children with special needs with information which can assist them with creating stimulating learning environments, and to give them simple practical suggestions to help them cope with meeting the needs of the children.

The visits start on Monday, February 20 at the Ministry of Education; Erdiston Teachers’ Training College; and the School of Education, University of the West Indies (UWI), where contact will be made with senior officials and educators.

The following day, Tuesday, February 21, Dr. Spencer will visit the Irving Wilson School, Pine Plantation Road, St. Michael. This will run from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. She will return to the school, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and discuss autism and dyslexia, among other conditions.

Professor Spencer is also slated to visit Charles F. Broome Special Unit; Erdiston Special School; Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School; St. Stephen’s Primary Special Needs Unit; the Challenor School; All Saints Special Unit; Eagle Hall Special Unit and the Ann Hill School for Children with Special Needs.

In addition to the visits, there will also be a seminar/workshop on Cognitive Strategies for Teachers and Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities. It will be held on Saturday, February 25, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in Lecture Theatre 2, UWI, Cave Hill Campus. The seminar targets teachers, parents, guardians and members of relevant organisations.

A public lecture on Educating All Children will also be delivered by the visiting professor on Wednesday, February 29. It will be held in the Conference Room of the Barbados Light and Power, the Garrison, at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Spencer will speak to the importance of a quality education for children, whether they are exceptional, average or have special needs.??

The Barbados Association of Reading seeks to contribute to the education system by organising professional development programmes for its members who are mainly teachers, and by also providing opportunities for members of the public to be enlightened on a variety of educational topics.??

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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